Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Havana Redux

Havana Redux: Preemptive Post-Op from jessica rivera on Vimeo.

Cuba’s capitalistic re-awakening threatens to erase the country’s existing urban formations that have remained relatively frozen since the late 1950’s.

In 2008, direct US investment is still prohibited. However, most American politicians are confident that the embargo’s demise is not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’. Unfortunately, when the floodgates do open, Havana’s urban fabric will likely be caught unprepared for the stresses that will be inflicted by the ruthless game of ‘capitalistic catch-up’.

As we know, fictions are just as legitimate as facts in their ability to show truths. Using strategies of both prediction and eulogy, documentary that unravels into fiction, this thesis positions film as the most effective medium with which to visualize a city so overwhelmingly haunted by the imagination. The anxiety of denial imposed by the city on its residents, and the imagination outsiders maintain and impose back onto Havana (which remains shrouded by the forever nostalgic) clash to produce a city marked by conflicting desires. Compositing disparate locations and timeframes, the development of two cities is played out, in an attempt to reveal the underlying systems common to both, ultimately leading to the capture of a third place.

The film is structured as a series of interrogations of the city, where our only window into that world is opened to us through the eyes of individuals, through the recapitulation of their own memories. They become a metonymy for the entire city. Having zoomed out, Havana then, is understood as a city made up of thousands of fragments, which can each be extracted and extrapolated into their own individual worlds. Intermittently, the city as a cloud of complex systems, is pushed to the background, and the characters are brought forth in order to reify those fragments in the construction of a new place.